Digital TV not cause of snowing, says Ofta

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am

Inquiries flood in over new transmissions

The telecoms watchdog has received more than 300 inquiries since digital television broadcasts began on Monday, five of them about analogue televisions plagued by 'snowing'.

But Danny Lau Kwong-cheung, assistant director of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, said that it was technically impossible for the digital signals to cause 'snowing' on analogue TVs.

'It is illogical from an engineering point of view,' he said. 'If interference occurs, it should affect the whole building.'

He said there were no reports or complaints about the quality of analogue services during a five-month trial and insisted both analogue and digital signals were compatible.

According to Ofta, all five complaints came from residents in Kowloon Peninsula. The watchdog yesterday investigated one case at On Tin Estate, Lam Tin, but no problems were found.

In a Television Broadcasts interview yesterday, a Mrs Mo, who lives in Tsz Wan Shan, criticised 'ghosting' and 'snowing' problems which she said had occurred on her analogue TV since digital broadcasts began. 'The colours and images [on her TV screen] overlap,' she said.

Mr Lau said he would not rule out the possibility that digital reception upgrades in some buildings had 'inadvertently disturbed' analogue signal reception. 'Improper connections of cords between the television and the set-top box may also contribute to reception quality problems,' he added.

People could ask building managers to get the contractors who upgraded building systems to solve the problems. The authority would also follow up complaints received on its 2961 6333 hotline.

An ATV spokeswoman said it had received 25 inquiries, 20 of which had concerned 'poorer quality' signals.

'It may be explained by people being more sensitive about picture quality since the launch of digital broadcasting,' she said, adding that analogue signals had no impact on digital signals.

A TVB spokesman said the channel had received four inquiries concerning Pearl TV broadcasts and subtitles. No complaints about analogue services had been received.

Despite the criticism, Mr Lau said Ofta was satisfied with the progress of digital broadcasting.

'Both [free-to-air] broadcasters, TVB and ATV, have launched their new programmes, including HDTV programmes, as planned,' he said.

Of the more than 300 inquiries received, most concerned coverage and the use of set-top boxes.

Mr Lau said an online database would be established this month detailing the buildings within range of the sole digital transmitter at Tsz Wan Shan.

Meanwhile, senior telecommunications engineer Chaucer Leung Chung-yin said 16 upper-tier set-top boxes had passed tests and been approved by the authority.

He said no basic-tier set-top box had passed muster and added that unapproved versions were on the market. 'It will be in consumers' interests to choose set-top boxes with our labels,' he said.